How to Protect a Child as the Father

We have a question from our Facebook group, Five Minute Fatherhood, you can find us on there. And Casey said, “I have a brand new daughter. How do I protect her heart and set her up for healthy boundaries?” And then we weren’t exactly sure what meant, so then we asked for some elaboration. And he said, “How can I teach her to discern the wolves in sheep’s clothing, repel the snakes and attract godly men? And not just don’t touch the bathing suit stuff,” which I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant.

You didn’t know that? You didn’t grow up in youth group, Jeff?

I guess not.

Don’t touch the bathing suit areas.

Is that a rule?

Yeah, this is what youth pastors said. I guess this was like 1980s, 1990s youth pastor lore. Everyone wanted to know how far is too far? And you say, “Don’t touch any of the areas that the bathing suit touches.”

Oh, that’s funny.

Yeah. We get past that I think, Casey.

Exactly, exactly. Well, the classic one I guess then for my arrow is more like, what was it? When we were at camp, it was like boys are blue, girls are red, don’t make purple or something like that.

Oh, yeah.

So there’s all the classic, cheesy youth group ones. But, okay I think I get the heart of what Casey’s saying. And yeah, just how do you kind of … I think what he’s trying to say is how do you set up your daughter to not be … gullible is the wrong word, but just to be sharp and to be understand the world and what she’s entering into and how to be aware. And I think sons too, I think you actually need to address this to both. But yeah, what would you say to that? How do you give your kid kind of the vision and the intelligence and the sharpness and the shrewdness to actually live in this world as a kingdom citizen and not just say like, “Oh, let’s go hide out.” Or, “Let’s leave,” or, “Let’s retreat,” against different temptations and worldviews. I’d love to hear what you say on this.

Yeah, I’m curious how this is going to come across and I’m excited to hear Jeff, how you react to this. My response is that women, it takes the heart and the discernment of a man to read the heart of a man. So what I’ve done with each of my daughters as they got to the age where this is possible, is we’ve talked strategically about how they will insert me into all of those relationships. And not in some weird way where I’m controlling the whole situation. It’s just that I know the guy, I’ve met the guy, I’ve talked to him, I have a relationship with him.

So each of our daughters, as they’ve entered that phase I’ve asked for that trust. So if a guy starts to text them, starts to be interested in them, starts to want to take them out or do something, then the next step is that I engage with the guy. And I’ve had phone conversations, like Kelsey will say to a guy who might be interested, “Hey, sure, why don’t you give my dad a call?” And I just had this … there was a conversation one of my other daughters was texting back and forth with the guy. So we talked about it and then I said, “Start a group text with me and him and you and I have some questions and I want to get to know him a little bit.”

I think what happens is, two things happen at that moment. One is the guy is probably a little bit shocked. Like all of a sudden it’s not this totally private thing between me and your daughter. So I think he becomes a little bit more thoughtful about the way that he’s approaching the relationship. And then if I do get any red flags, I can work on them or I can engage or I could talk to my daughter, I can talk to him. So that’s how I’ve dealt with it right now. Because I don’t think that in the heat of the moment when your daughter is pretty young and pretty impressionable there’s a way to make her immune to men who are very shrewd, very manipulative, very careful at trying to take advantage of them.

Like Casey’s saying here, the wolves, man they can be really hard to deal with. And I don’t know that there is a way to completely avoid that. So the way that I like to do it is I’ll take personal responsibility for being engaged, be an engaged dad in the relationship. Not in an overhanded authoritative way, but just in an engaged way. And, “Bring them over, let’s have a conversation.” “You want to take my daughter out? Then come in the house and let’s talk.” And I even will say to guys if there is any boundaries, I actually, I communicate them to my daughter. But I’ve had situations where I’ll actually, I tell the guy, “Tell me what your boundaries are, write them to me and I’ll talk to you about them. And then I’ll hold you accountable to what we’ve agreed to.” Things like that, man to man.

I mean, that’s a totally different scenario. Guys totally respond differently when they realize that they’re being held accountable by another man. They realize that this girl is protected. And that is what daughters need. Daughters need to be protected. And I know that that’s not the most politically correct thing in our day and age, but I think that it’s far more safe and far more consistent with the way that God designed the world. There’s a lot of evil out there and we need to address it as a team. And the father has a particular role in that process. But what do you think Jeff?

Yeah, no, I think I totally agree. I think what I’m hearing you say is don’t think that you can somehow impart so much wisdom, so much teaching, be the best dad possible that you’ll get to this point where then you can send them out and basically never talk to them about that stuff and they’ll be fine. That I think is kind of a fallacy and a lie. I think what I’m hearing you say is be an advisor just like the president has advisors, just like a CEO has advisors. You kind of are the boardroom of trying to like offer advice and help and kind of those bigger decisions and kind of a filter and a sounding board. Basically you’re involved in it. You’re an advisor to the situation. That’s what I’m hearing you saying and I think that’s totally right and appropriate.

And then I think yeah, you start getting into people don’t realize, I know if he’s specifically talking about dating, but if he is, then yeah, modern dating is a weird construct. It’s a very weird thing that you can actually have a private relationship scenario apart from the city you live in, the work you do, the family you’re a part. There’s a weird disconnect on every little stream of connection that you should have in your life and in your city and in your location. Even the invention of the automobile did radical things for dating because you can now get in a car and go somewhere. Before, I don’t know what it looked like before, but it just didn’t look like that. Looked like, “Let’s go pluck some corn in the backyard.” Or, “I’ll work for your dad.” Or I don’t know, but you can’t … It didn’t exist. The whole recreational, entertainment-based thing, that’s primarily centered on romance and primarily centered on, “Let’s go to dinner,” “Let’s go to a movie,” has really only been around since the automobile.

And there’s been a lot more love before then. There’s been a lot more marriages and babies before then. So I don’t know how they did it, they didn’t do it that way. And it was a lot more integrated. And I just think, yeah, we’re weird by thinking that it’s weird to have someone else involved who’s way smarter than the young people who are not smart and need that. And I wish I had that. It makes sense. It sense to me. And it’s like you’re kind of just welcoming wisdom. You’re welcoming help. You’re entering into a new season, right? When your daughters or your son’s getting to a stage of … And anyone in any new job or new seasons should say, “I need help.” And not welcoming that help is foolish and unwise.

That’s right.

I think, yeah. So you want to set your daughter and your son up to welcome that help when they are entering into unchartered territory, which we’re meant to go to. We’re meant to go to that unchartered territory, but with help and with wisdom. So yeah, that’s what I would end on. Casey, I hope that’s helpful. I hope that’s encouraging and hopefully it gave you kind of some fodder for thought about what you’re asking.

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